Franklin County Excessive’s Insurgent mascot topic of civil rights investigation

Contributed Image / Franklin County High School’s 1950 Yearbook features the school’s rebel mascot.

The Tennessee Department of Education’s Civil Rights Bureau is investigating a racial discrimination complaint in Franklin County Schools after school authorities decided in October not to remove the mascot “Rebel” and the battle song “Dixie” from Franklin County High.

The complaint, filed by Sewanee, Tennessee, Chris Colane on November 9, 2020, alleges the school system alleged “racial discrimination” in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 17, 2020, letter from the state to Franklin County Headmaster Stanley Bean.

The complaint follows a request for change in summer 2020.

Colane, who is white, filed the complaint “[b]Due to the lack of public discussion by any of the board members, I felt our petition was not adequately considered and that the Tennessee Office of Civil Rights would investigate our concerns further, “she said in a statement emailed.

“These symbols are still a symbol of white repression of African American students today,” she said. “Under such symbols and conditions, there can be no equality of education.”

Colane said Friday that she hopes the investigation can make a difference, “but more importantly, I hope hearts will change.”

A gray-clad little general – sometimes called Mr. Rebel, Col. Rebel, or the Southern Gentleman – has existed as the school’s mascot since 1950, according to officials, and criticism has been no stranger to the school’s battle song at other times over the years and other elements.

There is no outward sign of the rebel at the current 310,000-square-foot Franklin County High School in Winchester, which graduated first grade in 2005, but the name does exist on a campus street, Rebel Drive, and the name Rebels is on team uniforms. Fan wear, equipment and in other sports programs and activities.


Letter from the Tennessee Department of Civil Rights to the Franklin County Headmaster, Stanley Bean / December 17, 2020


According to the allegations, Bean and members of the school board failed to recognize and eliminate the ongoing systemic racial discrimination and racially hostile environment within the district caused by Franklin County High School’s continued use of symbols, images and songs Confederation in connection with its sports teams and the school seal. “

Bean on Friday passed a comment to the school system’s legal advisor on the matter, Nashville attorney Chuck Cagle.

On Friday, Cagle confirmed the investigation but noted that any further response from the school system would be limited while it was being conducted.

In October, Colane, the mother of a former “rebel” who disapproved of the name and pictures in the 1990s when other students walked out for calls for change, and Shanae Williams, a parent of a Franklin County middle school student who was a black cheerleader was in high school itself were among those speaking to the school board ahead of the October 2020 vote. Many of the rebel’s opponents had spoken at previous board meetings.

There were also a number of people at the meetings who defended the long-established images, and some suggested that a “rebel” is not necessarily a Confederate image but is a nonconformist.

Last July, Williams filed a petition entitled “Project Rebel” calling for a new mascot selection committee and a task force to engage, raise awareness and implement training and awareness-raising activities Racial discrimination was requested in the district. The petition also called on officers to enforce student policies on discrimination, harassment, bullying, cyberbullying and intimidation by students in the district. This petition had 5,145 signatures on Friday.

In response, a counter petition was launched to keep the mascot. It had more than 470 signatures on Friday.

When the issue was finally put to the vote in October, the board members split 5: 3 in order not to make any changes. School board members Chris Guess, Cleijo Walker, Lance Williams, Christine Hopkins and Caycee Hanger Roberts voted to keep the symbols, while Sara L. Keichty, Sarah Marhevsky and Linda Jones voted to reject them.

The board members remained mum on this issue and there was no discussion during the virtual session prior to the vote.

Following the October vote, Williams said, “It’s worrying, but it’s almost expected.”

The state letter to Bean added additional allegations from Williams that black athletes at the school were told “they could not talk about the petition requesting the removal of the rebel mascot” and “they shouldn’t” Participate in discussions on the issues raised in the petition. “

Officials from the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office did not respond to a request for information about the investigation process on Friday. However, a letter from the state to Colane dated December 3, 2020 said she will be informed of the results of the investigation when it is completed.

Colane hopes that followers of the mascot “may be open to considering the idea that rebel culture has historical ties to the Confederation and slavery, whether intended or not, and that it is oppressive and offensive to its black brothers and sisters to some whites I think mediated training, open dialogue, and time healing are necessary for all of this to happen. “

According to the state letter to Bean, the Civil Rights Office has requested copies of its anti-discrimination policy and complaint procedures from the school system. complaints filed by Colane and Williams and other complaints related to racial discrimination; Testimonies, interview notes, results and reports; Disciplinary documents; and any relevant social media or video evidence related to each complaint.

State officials also requested a statement detailing how officials in the school system responded to allegations that black athletes were being told not to speak or discuss the matter, as well as copies of all documents related to a 2020 survey on whether to change mascot and conduct another survey related to views on racial discrimination or harassment in the system.

Civil Rights Bureau officials will initiate an investigation into what action, if any, the school and district may have taken in relation to alleged racial discrimination and / or harassment. Please note that initiating an investigation does not in any way imply that the department has done so a decision on the merits of the allegations. During this investigation, the division is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant and other sources as appropriate, “the letter said.

In the letter, officials said site visits and face-to-face interviews could be requested if the investigation continues.

Colane said the Civil Rights Bureau recently told her “the investigation is ongoing and may be completed within a few weeks.”

She asked anyone with information or testimony about incidents in the past 180 days to call the office at 615-741-2921 before the investigation is completed.

Contact Ben Benton at [email protected] or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at

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Project Rebel calls

Change Requests: Remove all sounds and symbols from items that are similar to or associated with the Confederation.

We ask the school authorities to adopt these recommendations as an official guideline as part of the code of conduct for schools / pupils and to implement them in full:

1. Prohibit / Interrupt the song and sound of ‘Dixie’ at FCHS sponsored affiliate activities / events and school events (cheers, sporting events, parades, etc.).

2. Rebel mascot (name, icon, any signage, etc.) – A mascot is anything that is used to represent a group with a common public identity. The symbol and name “Rebel” are a representation and symbolic representation of a Confederate soldier in the civil war. At the time of Franklin County’s establishment in the 1950s [before the significant ruling of Brown v Board of Education in 1954]The student body was purposely made up of only white students. Therefore, the mascot as a whole, especially considering the history of overt racial oppression by the Franklin Co. school system, which resulted in a prolonged period of segregation, does not represent the current Franklin County’s school system. Among the Confederates and the “state rights” they fought for included classifying African Americans as enslaved property rather than someone with the ability to fully exercise their rights as American citizens.

3. The School Seal – The school seal features stars and stripes that indicate a strong relationship with the Confederate flag through design and education. Any symbol that appears associated with the Confederation or that resembles the Confederate symbols that represent high school [a public institution] is egregious and should not be thought in any way.

Source: Project Rebel summary by Shanae Williams on removing “sounds and symbols from anything resembling or related to the Confederation”.

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